Night on East Cemetery Hill

Anyone who travels with me to Gettysburg knows that I like to spend some quality time – after dark – on East Cemetery Hill. It doesn’t matter much what season it is (although honestly, off-season means fewer people and fewer people means more quality time). Tonight was high quality time – no people anywhere, nice clear night, nearly full moon. So while Mom (on a “bucket list” trip – her words, not mine) rested and little (middle-aged) brother stayed in the hotel room to elder-sit (edited at demand of said younger sibling), I spent MY time on the Hill. I did not bring my camera, so I made due with the one on my phone. Clicking on any of these photos should bring them up full size.

This isn’t East Cemetery Hill, but I liked the view at sunset from Cemetery Ridge looking west:

Cemetery Ridge at sunset.
Cemetery Ridge at sunset.

Here’s the Hancock monument on East Cemetery Hill. No one around. Anywhere. Nice:

Winfield Scott Hancock statue on East Cemetery Hill
Winfield Scott Hancock statue on East Cemetery Hill

Here’s the 17th CVI monument on East Cemetery Hill. Still no one to be seen anywhere. I guess people just wanted to stay inside:

The 17th CVI monument on East Cemetery Hill at night.
The 17th CVI monument on East Cemetery Hill at night.

When I got back to my room I started to delete the photos that did not come out very well. One of those photos was of the 1st NY Light Artillery monument on East Cemetery Hill. The monument is barely visible to the left. To the right? I have no clue what that is:

73rd PA monument is to the left. To the right of the monument is...I have no clue.
1st NY Light Artillery monument is to the left. To the right of the monument is…I have no clue.

I’ve been coming to Gettysburg for 35 years or so. Never had so much of a blip on any photo, film, video, or digital. I did have a camera malfunction once at the Jennie Wade House after a guide talked about how people had photos come out screwy there – but mine was caused by my thumb going through the shutter loading film. Doesn’t count as odd, just clumsy.

But c’mon, the shot above is a little cool. A little weird, maybe? Probably very explainable. But definitely my first “orb” photo ever. On a quiet night alone on East Cemetery Hill. Or maybe, just maybe – not quite alone.

Either way – time spent on East Cemetery Hill, especially after dark, is time well spent.

UPDATE: I was curious what causes these orbs to appear (I got another one in a shot of the 17th CVI monument, and I doubted that I was being tailed by any apparitions since I had driven around for a while between photos. Oh, and my mother said that no spirit would want to waste time hanging around me once let alone twice – not sure how to take that one, actually!).

Anyhow, Wikipedia says (so it must be true) that orb artifacts:

“…are especially common with compact or ultra-compact cameras, where the short distance between the lens and the built-in flash decreases the angle of light reflection to the lens, directly illuminating the aspect of the particles facing the lens and increasing the camera’s ability to capture the light reflected off normally sub-visible particles.”

And now you know.

Norwalk’s Douglass Fowler A Determined Civil War Commander

Lt. Colonel Douglass Fowler
Lt. Colonel Douglass Fowler

And in today’s edition of the Hartford Courant, celebrating 250 years in print, you’ll find this profile of the 17th Connecticut’s second Lieutenant Colonel, Douglass Fowler.

Not only that, but the life and military career of Lt. Colonel Fowler (a Guilford native) will highlighted during Guilford, CT’s “Guilford & The Civil War” event being held on May 31st as part of that town’s 375th Anniversary celebration.

I suppose we’ll never know (unless there is correspondence somewhere from him) that Fowler may have been something of a lost soul after the death of two infant children and wife (at a very young age) in the years before the war started.

Although his body was never recovered from the field at Gettysburg, his death is commemorated on the headstone marking his wife Melissa Nash Fowler at Pine Island Cemetery in Norwalk, CT.

“I do not regret having done as I have done, for I with many thousands was honest and enlisted for our country. If I was home and knew as much as I do now I would enlist at the first opportunity.”

Sue Curry, the great-great granddaughter of Captain Wilson French, Company G, provided the following excerpt of a letter written home to his wife Mattie less than 2 weeks after the battle at Chancellorsville.  At the time of the battle he was a 1st Lieutenant, and he was promoted soon after the battle. Good officers look after their men, and by all accounts, Captain French was a good officer. As you can see in his letter home, he was as concerned, if not more concerned, for his men than for himself.

Captain Wilson French - Co. G
Captain Wilson French – Co. G

“…I have worried a good deal about my missing men. I have been to work faithfully to learn of them. I can account for all except two those are Andrew Couch and Andrew Lockwood. Srgt Charles Jenning was brought in today wounded in the left side. Wm W Morgan wounded in the right side. Sylvester Williams in the left foot, Wm Creeden and Wm Merrett are both wounded in the shoulder. these two came in with us. Daniel Dove and Charles Wurtz are prisoners in Richmond. I feel thankful we were not all

killed or taken prisoners. God has been Good to us in sparing our lives. I have trusted in him nice, and I can continue to trust in him hereafter. I have visited the hospital often looking after my wounded as they come in. they were very glad to see me. they are in good spirits and express a desire to get well soon so they can try the rebels again. there is a great many wounded come in to our Division Hospital some with the loss of leg, arms, and fingers. some have lain on the battlefield for thirteen days. some of their wounds smell very bad. I saw them take the leg off from one poor fellow. he bore it very patiently. it is sickening to go through the tents and hear some of the poor fellows grown…I wish the brave fellows were home where they could have their kind friends to administer to their wants. but we cannot always have our wishes gratified. our boys say the rebel soldiers rob our dead and wounded of everything. they took everything off from our Lieut Col Walters except his shirt and drawers. the rebels had abundance of greenbacks that they had taken from our dead and wounded. our wounded had very little to eat or drink while there…the rebels do not have any sugar, tea or coffee. they live on hard tack and half rations of meat…the rebels even pull the shoes off from our dead horses, so I think they must be hard up for iron…the late battlefield is a horrible sight to behold. the stench from dead men and horses is sickening, awful in the extreme. the building and woods are leveled by the canon ball and shell…we look forward for another attack soon that I think, if successful will finish

Corporal Andrew Couch - Company G
Corporal Andrew Couch – Company G

the work. I hope and pray that God may carry me through safe and soon may I meet with my family to live in a peaceful country. continue to pray dear wife. let us all pray together that this may soon be settled…”

The two soldiers that Captain French lists as unaccounted for would not remain so for long. Andrew Lockwood was captured during the battle but survived. Corporal Andrew Couch, (who wrote the words in the title of this post a few months earlier), was killed in action on May 2nd – the first of Captain French’s men to die in combat.

Return of the Henry Huss artwork

Nearly 15 years ago the site was fortunate to be able to add several sketches done by Henry Huss, drummer in Company D. The sketches were provided by a descendant of Huss. After the website had to move to a new platform, this particular section of the site went down. Well, it’s taken a few years, but it’s back!

There are a few other pages from the old site that still need to be restored. Sometimes it gets done quickly and sometimes…well, not so quickly. There are still quite a few things that reside on 3.5 floppy disks or need to be re-typed and saved elsewhere.

So, if you were one of the many folks who had submitted something in years past that used to be published on the site and no longer is – shoot me an email and remind me to get it back online!

Some more additions to the site

Thanks to Paul Keroack and the Norwalk History Room at the Norwalk Public Library, is able to add a variety of letters written home by Floyd T. Ruscoe of Company H for our readers. Ruscoe, originally from Lewisboro, NY, enlisted in Company H out of New Canaan at the age of 19 and served throughout the war. A big thank you to Paul for bringing these to light and taking the time to transcribe them for the site!

As most visitors know, this site is a compilation blog. Simply put, this site has existed since 1997 (wow) to locate information on the 17th CVI and put it here, in one place, where anyone interested (and willing to spend some time with it) can find it. How effective it may be depends a great deal upon the friends of the site who find, transcribe, scan and otherwise provide the material you see here.

That said, I’m always looking to add more! I still have dozens of letters in my own collection that need to be transcribed and added (19th century handwriting runs the gamut from fancy to look at and easy to read to practically indecipherable – such as Colonel Noble’s letters!).



The missing 10th part to J. Montgomery Bailey’s account of his capture, captivity, and subsequent parole following Gettysburg is no longer missing in action. The November 19, 1863 edition is not microfilmed and this portion was unavailable. Thanks to Keith Miller, the entire account is now online for your perusal. Keith, who presents on the 17th CVI as well, relates that the entire series was reprinted by Bailey in 1866 after he purchased the Danbury Times. This part was publsihed in the May 17, 1866 edition.

Bailey’s account is one of the very few published accounts from a member of the 17th that recounts the POW experience following Gettysburg.

A big thank you to Keith for finding it, transcribing it and sending it along to the site!

Save the date!

Lieutenant Wilson French - Co. G
Lieutenant Wilson French – Co. G

On Tuesday, March 25, 2014 Carolyn Ivanoff (a long time contributor and friend to this site) will be presenting her program “One Family’s Civil War –  the military career of Capt. Wilson French, CT 17th Volunteers, and his wife Martha Bouton of Old Mill Hill on Boston Avenue”.

The program begins at 6:30 pm at the North Branch Library, 3455 Madison Avenue, Bridgeport, CT.

Here’s a little more information from Carolyn’s website:

“This program, One Family’s Civil War, is based on almost 600 letters of Captain Wilson French, Company G, 17th Connecticut Volunteers, his beloved wife Martha Bouton French, and the remarkable journey of those letters through the generations.  Captain French was wounded at Gettysburg, captured, and paroled.  With the 17th Connecticut in service in Florida, he served as the Provost Marshal of St. Augustine.  On February 5, 1865 he was captured at Dunn’s Lake and sent to Andersonville where he was incarcerated at the officers’ stockade in Castle Reed. In the summer of 1865 he was subsequently summoned to testify at the Wirz Trial in Washington D.C.  Through his letters to his beloved wife, and hers to him, his strong character as a good officer and a good man shine through all his trials and hard service.  An amazing story of the Civil War and a family that lived through and survived those difficult and extraordinary years.”

Carolyn’s presentation “A Hard Road to Travel – From Connecticut to Gettysburg” can be found on this site.

New material added today

The remaining installments of J. Montgomery Bailey’s (aka “High Private Manton”) Under Guard or Sunny South in Slices have been posted under the Gettysburg category. Actually, part 10 is still missing – but the remaining parts are now online. Thanks to Bridget Carroll, gr. gr. granddaughter of Pvt. John Augustus Lowden, 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Company I, for taking the time to transcribe these articles!

The articles offer a glimpse into the experience of the soldiers who did not accept the Confederate parole offer shortly after the end of the battle – their initial captivity, march south to Richmond and imprisonment there, and their eventual parole and release the following month.

And…if anyone has “Slice Tenth” handy, please feel free to send it along!


In case you’re looking for something a little different…

Every now and then something comes up on eBay that is different and interesting.

In this case, it’s a regimental badge that belonged to Lieutenant A.W. Peck. If you spend some time browsing the Warren history you’ll see the name come up now and again. For that matter, he played a significant role in the war of words between veterans of the XI Corps and veterans of Carroll’s Brigade that took place in the late 19th century over who did what at East Cemetery Hill.

It’s not as fancy as some of the presentation badges I’ve seen (which were pretty heavily enameled compared to this one), but it’s still pretty cool.AW Peck regimental badge I grabbed the image off the eBay listing for anyone who has an extra $945 or so to spend on it.  You can find it here: